Héctor Bellerín has become the second-largest shareholder in Forest Green Rovers, recognised by Fifa and the United Nations as the world’s greenest football club. The Arsenal and Spain defender, who recently raised funds to plant almost 60,000 trees in the Amazon rainforest, will work in conjunction with the chairman Dale Vince on “raising the environmental agenda in football”, the League Two club said.
Bellerín first became aware of Forest Green six years ago, when playing Forest Green in a friendly, and recently got in touch with the Gloucestershire club to see whether he could help support them in their drive for sustainability.
He is thought to have invested £250,000, acquiring a stake of about 2% in the club, which is majority owned by Ecotricity, the green energy firm founded by Vince.
Forest Green became the world’s first carbon-neutral sports club in 2017. The club’s ground in Nailsworth is powered by renewable energy and serves vegan food to players, staff and supporters. They are set to build a 5,000-seat ‘Eco Park’, an all-wooden stadium, after being granted planning permission.
“As I heard more about the club and its work, I knew I wanted to meet them and be part of it,” Bellerín said. “So many people feel there’s no solution to the world’s problems, but Forest Green are already doing plenty – and showing others the way. I’m so excited to be part of the FGR family. I’ll be helping where I can, supporting people who want to change the world for the better.”
Vince said: “He got in touch a couple of months ago, reaching out to the club, wanting to get involved and help in some way but didn’t know how. I think it adds credibility to what we are doing because there will always be some fans who think the environment and football don’t go together, and we should just leave football be. But that is not right and they do go together.”
The English Football League and the Football Association have approved the investment.